A warm sleeping bag is an absolute must for Mount Kilimanjaro, regardless of the season you plan to trek.
You can guarantee freezing nights on the upper reaches of Kili (>3,000m) and without a warm sleeping bag you will be uncomfortable and cold.
Below we have set out the key characteristics to look for in the best Kilimanjaro sleeping bags, as well as provided three recommendations based on price and performance.
It is possible to rent sleeping bags in Moshi or Arusa, or from your tour operator, but in general we recommend you bring your own as reusing a sleeping bag that has been previously used by lots of smelly trekkers before you can be rather unpleasant and unhygienic experience. Of course, if you only plan to use your sleeping bag once then renting, or borrowing from a friend, is the preferable option.
If you are set on renting a sleeping bag then it is still worthwhile looking for one with similar characteristics as those set out below, and a good idea to bring a sleeping bag liner (here are some good examples) to provide a slightly more hygienic sleeping environment and additional insulation.
Sleeping Bags - Key Characteristics
Down vs. Synthetic
There are two types of sleeping bags – goose or duck down, and synthetic. In general down sleeping bags are better quality, lighter and more comfortable. They are however more expensive than synthetic sleeping bags.
To decide between down and synthetic the two key considerations are weight and cost.
The cost calculation is really dependent on your personal budget and more importantly, frequency of camping and trekking.
We recommend going with a down sleeping bag is you plan to do frequent unsupported camping and trekking adventures (2-4 a year), and want a product that is reliable and a long-term investment. If you are trekking Mount Kilimanjaro as a one off and might only use the sleeping bag again in a few years for another trek, then it might make sense to go for a cheaper synthetic option, or indeed rent a bag.
As we mentioned above, the nights on Kilimanjaro, or indeed on any high altitude trekking expedition, get very cold. Hence your sleeping bag needs to be able to cope with extremely cold temperatures. We recommend sleeping bags that have a rating at a minimum of -10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).
It is however better to have a warmer sleeping bag than a colder one – you would rather be too warm than too cold.
Shape and Design
The best hiking sleeping bag design is the mummy-shape as it is crafted to fit the contours of the human body, and hence provides better insulation that standard rectangular-shaped sleeping bags.
Most adult body-types fit into a mummy-shaped sleeping bag, but if you have a uniquely short, tall or wide-body shape then make sure you pick a size of sleeping bag that will fit your body contours snuggly.
The other two design features to look out for are an insulated hood that can be pulled around your head with a draw chord, and a two-way zipping system which improves insulation and allows for unzipping at both ends of the sleeping bag.
Kilimanjaro Sleeping Bags
Hyke & Byke Snowmass
Hyke & Byke make great sleeping bags.
Their Snowmass range offers an ultra lightweight 4-season unisex sleeping bag that is ideal for Mount Kilimanjaro. Rated to 0 Degree F (-17 Degree C), this 650 fill hydrophobic down sleeping bag will keep you warm and comfortable on Kilimanjaro.
It is available in three sizes (Long, Regular and Short), so can cater for people of different heights, and there are multiple colours to choose from.
TETON Sports LEEF
For awesome value for money (i.e. under $100), we recommend the TETON Sports LEEF.
The LEEF is a synthetic sleeping bag but is still lightweight (4.2 pounds (1.90 kg) and very warm. We recommend going for the 0F (-18C) version as the 20F (-7C) is likely not warmth enough for Kilimanjaro.
The REI Co-op Downtime sleeping bag is rated to 0F (-17C), which makes it excellent for Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Downtime as the name suggest includes a down fill (650) and offers lightweight warmth and engineering that balances room to move with excellent insulation efficiency.
This sleeping bag will keep you comfortable on the slopes of Kibo.
Other Sleeping Accessories
Inflatable pillow (optional)
An inflatable pillow that can quickly be inflated and deflated for storage is useful. Equally you could just use a pile of clothes.
Thermal mat (optional)
Your tour company should provide a thin mattress on which you can set your sleeping bag. If you are concerned about the cold and want additional cushioning we suggest bringing a thermal sleeping pad that can be stored as a small roll in your duffle bag.
Therm-a-Rest mats are the market leaders.
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